I originally wrote a version of the following in reponse to a blog post of Messy Christian. I wanted to put it in mine for posterity.
One of the main points of the chapter that we talked a lot about basically states that we should be aware of the conscience of our brethren and to be prepared to sacrifice our liberty out of concern for the other’s sensibilities. Simply put, these sensibilities can lead to sin. Rightly or wrongly, a person’s sensibilities can lead them to sin even if the actual action is not explicitly sinful because “…whatever is not from faith is sin.”
In this chapter, Paul is surprisingly sensitive to the stigma surrounding the use of food in religious observance in a way that says to me that it is not always about being correct about an issue or whether one is at liberty to do a thing, rather that sometimes it is the Godly thing to “self-censor” for the sake of unity and love. For, like Corinthians says, “If I … know all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Self-censorship because of fear is never right but to be aware and sensitive, loving Christ’s body over our liberty is always a good call.
People need to be challenged just as much as they need to be able to voice there opinion. Neither of those needs can hold a candle to our responsibility to love though. It is not so much about what one can or cannot say, or do, rather it is about our relationship to one another and the responsibilities that brings.
It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the priviledge of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s quote is a clear representation of the how I personally see community. I wanted to start off with this quote to give you feel of perspective concerning the review you are about to read. I can’t help but color my wording with my perspective on things. So I will just warn you ahead of time that I can be quite… dogmatic, on the issue of community and the place of it in the believer’s faith journey.
The posts over the next weeks will be a review of The Search for Belong by Joseph Myers, actually more of a Cliff’s Notes (should I put a TM here?), for the benefit of my brothers and sisters at the bluer Vineyard at the bequest of my pastor. The idea being that, if one who has passion for the topic of a certain book can condense the main points of that book into manageable bits, many can benefit from the thoughts presented of the book without having to actual read the whole volume of work. It is an idea born from a society with too many commitments and not enough time. This may or may not work, who knows? One thing is for certain I will enjoy the effort and I hope that you do also.
…So here I am; I have had a crappy week and need some relief. In the middle of prayer at a small group I find myself asking God to speak to me through His Word. The words, “My peace I give you…” come into my head. So, I turn to John and read verse 27 of that fourteenth chapter and read it…
On the road to Emmaus we see two disciple of the recently deceased Jesus of Nazareth. These guys are defeated, they put all their eggs in one basket, Jesus as the Messiah, and He was killed. To add insult to injury, the body of Jesus is now missing. They have left the upper-room and were heading back home, even after the report from some in the group of angels saying that He is risen. Why?